The pizza was reportedly introduced to America in New Haven , so it’s only natural that the city’s pizzerias would be its pride. Exhibit A is Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria (157 Wooster St., 203/865-5762, www.pepespizzeria.com , 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; noon–10 p.m. Sun., $8–14). The simple interior lets the pies take center stage, with toppings from mozzarella and bacon to mushrooms and fresh clams.
Pull up a chair at one of the wide, burnished-wood tables of Viva Zapata (161 Park St., 203/562-2499, 11:30 a.m.–4 p.m. daily; 4 p.m.–midnight Sun.–Thu., 4 p.m.–1 a.m. Fri.–Sat., $6–16) and brace your taste buds for some simple-but-good Mexican food. Staples like tostadas and fajitas are always available, as are seafood chimichangas and filet con queso (butterflied filet mignon stuffed with jack cheese and jalapenos).
Italy meets Spain in a quirky-but-happy collision at Ahimsa (1227 Chapel St., 203/786-4774, 4:30 p.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; 5 p.m.–9 p.m. Sun., $12–20). Here find healthy tapas (read: tasty vegan snacks) in the adjoining room, and heftier (but still vegan) entrées of squash fettuccine in nut cheese Alfredo sauce, stuffed beets, and lasagna of zucchini, marinara, and freshly made pesto.
The reign in Spain starts at Ibiza (39 High St., 203/865-1933, www.ibizanewhaven.com , noon–2:30 p.m. Fri.; 5–9 p.m. Mon.–Thu.; 5–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat., $25–29), an excellent place to sample grilled sea scallops in Catalan squid ink pasta or steamed octopus with potato emulsion. For dessert, don’t bypass the flans—particularly the sweet-sour green-apple version.
The name of Pad Thai Restaurant (170 Chapel St., 203/562-0322www.ibizanewhaven.com, noon–2:30 p.m. Fri.; 5–9 p.m. Mon.–Thu.; 5–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat., $25–29), may be a little on the pedestrian side, but the food is anything but. Authentic Thai is all over the menu here—from the spicy chaiya noodles (with seafood and basil in red curry) to the whole fried fish with coriander.